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Editor’s note:

We recently received an email from Alexander Stille, a former writer for The National Law Journal, asking if there was a digital version of a story he wrote 28 years ago. The story was a long look at Donald Trump’s legal strategy, and his controversial yet astute deployment of lawyers from a variety of smaller law firms. The email prompted a search through dust-covered bound volumes.

The result below is an early look at Trump before he went public with his presidential ambitions. It’s no mere artifact; read closely and you’ll see that many of the shrewd tactics he used to build his casino and luxury housing empire came to bear on his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The article serves as a handy guide to the tactics Trump has used again and again.

Stille went on to write a number of books, mostly on Italian culture and politics, such as “Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and Death of the First Italian Republic” and “The Sack of Rome: Media + Money + Celebrity = Power = Silvio Berlusconi.” He is San Paolo Professor of International Journalism at Columbia University School of Journalism. Trump, of course, is the presumptive Republican nominee at this writing. What follows is Stille’s article as it ran in the NLJ back in 1988.

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